"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Henry Kissinger on President-Elect Donald Trump at CBS Face the Nation and How it is Reported in the News Media

In our previous posting our topic was Newspapers, News Media and Biased Reporting : How Can We Get the Real Facts?

Let us now take a superb case of real NEWS in point: the December 18, 2016 CBS "Face the Nation" statements of foreign policy sage and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump.

What did Kissinger say?
THAT's the NEWS. What KISSINGER said, and not opinions about what he said.

Here is what we find Kissinger saying in the CBS Face the Nation transcript:
"Donald Trump is a phenomenon that foreign countries haven’t seen.

So it is a shocking experience to them that he came into office, at the same time, extraordinary opportunity. And I believe he has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president, because every country now has two things to consider, one, their perception that the previous president or the outgoing president basically withdrew America from international politics, so that they had to make their own assessment of their necessities, and, secondly, that here is a new president who is asking a lot of unfamiliar questions.

And because of the combination of the partial vacuum and the new questions, one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges out of it. I’m not saying it will. I’m saying it’s an extraordinary opportunity.

I think he operates by a kind of instinct that is a different form of analysis as my more academic one, that he’s raised a number of issues that I think are important, very important and, if they’re addressed properly, could lead to -- could create results."
Now that is what KISSINGER said about Trump.
How has it been reported in the news media? Here are two contrary examples:
  • Reena Flores at CBS News on the other hand has a headline that shifts the reader's attention "politically" to another topic also touched upon by Kissinger. Her headline for a report on that very same CBS Face the Nation is: Henry Kissinger says "I hope we're doing some hacking" in Russia, which takes the entire CBS Face the Nation discussion of that topic out of context, because Kissinger states clearly that all governments are hacking and that the real issue is what they do with their so obtained information. Worse, the reporter moves Kissinger's statement about Trump as a phenomenon further down in the article and does not assign to it the importance it deserves as NEWS. The effect of this article on the reader is to obfuscate the actual things that KISSINGER says and to elevate a political view about Russia's hacking to the foreground. This CBS piece is thus NOT good NEWS reporting.
Here is the transcript of what Henry Kissinger actually said about hacking:
"Everybody has the hacking capability.

And probably every intelligence service is hacking in the territory of other countries. But who exactly does what, that would be a very sensitive piece of information. But it’s a very difficult to communicate about it, because nobody wants to admit the scope of what they’re doing.

And I don’t doubt that the Russians are hacking us. And I hope we’re doing some hacking there. Then what use you make, whether it’s a hostile use, that then becomes an international problem.
In any case, putting "hacking" in the foreground is simply a "political" choice.

Keep an eye on what other news media report about Kissinger's statements. One can quickly tell what "slant" on the news is important to a given reporter or newspaper or other media outlet, quite apart from reporting correctly the important things that a foreign policy expert such as Kissinger actually said, and quite apart from whether one agrees with Kissinger or not. The point is what did KISSINGER say. That's the "real" NEWS.

The lesson for newspapers and other news media is:

FIRST, report what the actual NEWS is. That is the main job of the news media.

LATER, one can offer one's own opinions about it.

That latter is the newspaper columnists "opinionating", nothing wrong with that, but that is not "the real NEWS".

Hat tip to CaryGEE for calling attention to Kissinger's statements.